Ride [LP]

by: Catfish and the Bottlemen

For Catfish and the Bottlemen, growth is measured along the scale of refinement, not ambition. The Ride, the 2016 sophomore set that follows their debut, The Balcony, by two years, finds the band still pledging allegiance to the rock & roll of Y2K, but their increased assurance underscores their debt not to the Arctic Monkeys but the Strokes. Honing the hooks and beefing up the production wind up whittling away whatever British eccentricities that were lingering on The Balcony, but where Alex Turner's crew followed Josh Homme down a desert rabbithole, this crew values precision. Usually, this means The Ride can pack a punch even when the guitars aren't cranked to the max: the open space of "Soundcheck" and the ringing jangle of "Postpone" sink their hooks in a way the faster, cloistered stuff doesn't. Then again, when The Ride does get loud, it never feels raucous. Catfish and the Bottlemen hit their marks dutifully, rushing through their melodies but never taking it so quick that the singsong tunes don't stick, slowing down the tempo for needed breathers and ending the whole shebang with "Outside," an extended number designed to ratchet up expectations prior to the obligatory encore. All this means that even if Catfish and the Bottlemen don't bring much to the table, they know how to follow a blueprint without missing a beat. [The Ride was also released on LP.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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